In A Sow’s Ear | TheFencePost.com
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In A Sow’s Ear

by Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

You know you’re a Montanan if … Or, you know you’re in Wyoming if …

Drive anywhere in Montana or Wyoming and sooner or later you’ll come across a tongue-in-cheek list of one-liners describing rural western life. Usually a 11-by-17-inch poster, the letters framed in a “rope” and printed in rustic brown on beige paper. Found in most tourist shops, the poster sells for $3.95 and up.

As the west changes, the “you know” index changes as well. The locals and old-timers utter the old familiar sayings with a certain nostalgic yearning. Newcomers are bringing in new watchwords and attitudes as they settle in to make things “better.”

You know he’s a Montana Old Timer if:

… he’s woken up by coyotes three times in a week, and he loads his .30-.30.

… all his jeans have barbed wire fence snags.

… the only tan he has is on his face and hands.

… he’s not surprised it snowed on July 4.

… his town has a Mint or Stockman’s Bar or both.

… he crosses the Missouri River more than three times to get to town.

… he orders a ditch and the bartender doesn’t have to ask how to mix it.

… he rhymes creek with stick.

… he drives 80 miles to buy groceries.

… he gets arrested for shooting the grizzly that ate his Aunt Gevernia.

… he gets arrested for shooting a wolf that killed six calves and 35 sheep.

… he knows what 4-H and FFA stand for.

… every third vehicle he passes has a dog in it.

… dressing up means clean blue jeans, a brushpopper shirt and cowboy hat.

… he reads the weather report before getting dressed.

… the two main tools behind the pickup seat are made by Smith & Wesson.

… he swerved to hit a gopher, went in the ditch and wrecked his pickup.

… he wears a hat to the dinner table.

… he has more saddles than suits.

… he likes cowboy poetry, cowboy guitar music.

… he thinks jazz music sounds like car crashes and assault weapons going off at once.

… he considers 50 mph winds just standard breezes.

You know he/she is a Newcomer if…

… they live 20 miles out of town on a gravel road and petitions to have it paved.

… they build a starter mansion on a hill top and call it a “cabin.”

… they build a new home amongst the trees on the side of a hill and get burned out.

… they let their German Shepherd run loose. It harasses the neighbor’s cows. The neighbor shoots the dog.

Newcomers complain to the Sheriff who fines them for allowing their canine to pester livestock.

… she actually got to personally see a coyote and declared it was sooo thrilling!

… she just bought the cutest leather jacket with fringe!

… she can bask in a tanning bed salon all year around, just like in California.

… they order fancy drinks and the bartender has to ask how to make ’em.

… he and she get on every committee aimed at “improving” the town.

… they think “stove up” refers to a cooking range.

… they say “disabled” instead of handicapped or crippled.

… they like to prose on about how things were where they came from.


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